FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A white Florida police officer was charged with battery Tuesday for allegedly shoving a kneeling Black woman to the ground during a protest march last month, prosecutors said.
Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said Fort Lauderdale officer Steven Pohorence, 29, was seen “intentionally touching or striking” the 19-year-old woman during a civil rights protest march on May 31.
The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Satz said in a news release that the decision on whether to seek a misdemeanor or felony charge was based on the extent of the injuries suffered by the woman, identified as Jada Servance in court documents.
The case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The encounter was captured on video during one of the marches around the country protesting police brutality after the police custody death in Minneapolis of an African American man, George Floyd.
Pohorence was previously suspended with pay by the Fort Lauderdale police chief but as a result of the battery charge decision, his status will be changed to administrative leave without pay.
It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday if Pohorence has a lawyer to speak for him. The union representing Fort Lauderdale officers has declined comment. An initial court date has not yet been set.